Coen is a small mining town located in central Cape York, approximately seven hours drive north of Cairns on the Peninsula Development Road which connects Cairns to Weipa.

The township provides services to the region and is an important supply point on the long unpaved road leading to Weipa and other northern communities. It is also a popular stopping point for tourists driving up to the tip of Cape York - the northernmost part of the Australian mainland.

Around 416 people live in Coen and surrounding areas, over half are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Apunipima began providing primary health care services in Coen in around 2009 with a steady increase in services over the years.

Apunipima’s has historically provided services from Queensland Health’s facility but opened its own community-run, community–driven primary health care centre, staff accommodation and Wellbeing Centre (providing culturally appropriate mental health care) in 2017.

The priamry health care centre is a family - centred practice focusing on improving and maintaining the health and wellbeing of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people of Coen and surrounding communities. It offers a full range of culturally appropriate comprehensive primary health care services including doctors, nurse and maternal and child health worker supported by a range of visiting services.

The Apunipima Way

All Apunipima’s health services are underpinned by Apunipima’s Model of Care, known as the Apunipima Way, which means our services are:

  • Driven by community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership
  • Embody Social, Emotional, Spiritual, Environmental and Cultural Wellbeing
  • Address Social and Cultural Determinants of Health
  • Based on a Community and Family Centred

Community Control in Cape York

Apunipima Cape York Health Council is the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (ACCHO) Cape York.

In January 2017, Apunipima provides health care and advocacy services to 11 Cape York communities and advocacy services only to another six situated in the Northern Peninsula Area (NPA).

Apunipima currently has primary health care centres in Mossman Gorge, Napranum, Aurukun (with one soon to open in Coen) and a maternal and child health centre in Kowanyama.

Our staff in Hopevale, Kowanyama, Laura, Lockhart River, Mapoon, Pormpuraaw and Wujal Wujal share facilities with Queensland Health.

ACCHOs provide culturally appropriate health care services based on community need and held accountable through community based Health Action Teams and elected Directors Board voted in by community based members.

Transition to Community Control

Cape York communities (with the exception of Mossman Gorge which has had only community controlled primary health care services since 2009) receive primary health care services from a number of providers including Queensland Health, Apunipima and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. In late 2016 the Queensland government made a landmark commitment to transition five communities, including Coen, to a community controlled health model by December 2019. This means that all primary health care services in Aurukun, Mapoon, Napranum, Coen and Lockhart River will be culturally appropriate, controlled by the community and underpinned by the Apunipima Way.

Apunipima and Queensland Health, the two major health providers in Coen, have agreed to implement an integrated care model to deliver comprehensive primary health care and maintain responsive acute/emergency services in the community.

The model contemplates a single entry point for health care, ensuring the service operates as if it were a single health provider. The integrated model will align primary health protocols and systems and enable Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service staff to work within Apunipima - led programs whilst maintaining essential emergency, X-Ray and pharmacy services.

Welfare Reform

Coen is one of the four Cape York Welfare Reform sites. Cape York Welfare Reform was originally a four year trial (2008 – 2012) that aimed to rebuild social norms through welfare reform, education and economic opportunity.

The Australian and Queensland governments and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership work together to deliver Welfare Reform. 

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Coen Brochure Page 1

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Sunset in Coen

Coen is a popular stopping point for tourists driving up to the tip of Cape York - the northernmost part of the Australian mainland.

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Coen kids

The Ayapathu, Kaanju, Lama Lama, Umpila and WikMungkan peoples call Coen home